Nicholas Ruxton ’14 knew that Shenandoah University felt like home moments after stepping onto campus. Ruxton was invited to check out the campus by Vice President for Student Life The Rev. Dr. Rhonda VanDyke after they met at a youth conference when he was a senior in high school. And, when President Tracy Fitzsimmons greeted him by name on move-in day, Ruxton got further confirmation that Shenandoah was the right place for him. “I enjoyed the small class sizes and the relationships that I built with my professors, many of whom I still communicate with regularly,” said Ruxton. “At SU you are never a number, you are a valued person in the community.”
Two of Ruxton’s fondest memories during his time at Shenandoah are traveling to Australia with the Global Citizenship Project and going on a spiritual pilgrimage to Iona, Scotland. He loved being able to experience different cultures, since these were his first trips leaving the East Coast of the United States, much less, the continent.
Ruxton is a videographer for the Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. In this position, he primarily travels around the state highlighting churches and their stories. These videos range from informational videos about events to community outreach programs. The conference has multiple mission partnerships, so Ruxton has also traveled across the country and internationally to Cambodia and Mozambique to cover stories.
The most rewarding part of Ruxton’s career is being able to tell people’s stories. On his trip to Mozambique, he met a group of widows who had been outcast by their families. “They shared with me how the church welcomed them into a community where they felt valued and loved,” said Ruxton. “Being able to share stories like that with people in Virginia is truly a highlight of my job.”
Ruxton truly feels that Shenandoah prepared him for his job. From giving him hands-on experiences working with the Office of Marketing and Communications (OMC) to challenging him to think globally, he felt fully equipped for his job upon graduation. “While at SU, I was able to assist with the video production for the Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival and create other videos for the school,” said Ruxton. “Lee Graff with OMC mentored me and showed me the ins and outs of producing quality videos. The Office of Spiritual Life challenged not only my faith, but also how I see the world. Because of this, I am able to tell the stories of individuals from a more informed theological perspective.”
Thanks in large part to the education and mentorship Ruxton received at Shenandoah, he has received more than ten awards in videography, photography and blogging from the United Methodist Association of Communicators.
Ruxton’s advice to students is: “Think outside of the box and always challenge themselves. In a job where you have freedom to be creative, why limit yourself? I would also encourage them to get to know the subjects or events on a more personal level. Before interviewing someone or taking their picture, I always take time to get to know them. Normally this is a calming situation and allows me to capture a more authentic story. My profession is about building relationships and telling people’s stories while making them comfortable in front of the camera.”
Written by Harley Ryan ’16
Assistant Director of Alumni Affairs